• Alex Lacey

Oliver Twist's London

A lovely new exhibition opens today in London at the Charles Dickens museum, all about his story Oliver Twist. If you haven't been to the Charles Dickens museum, pop it on your list, it's a delight. If you have ever wanted to see inside a Georgian terrace house, and in addition one where you are walking in the footsteps of one of England's greatest writers, then it's an absolute must.


Here are some of the highlights of the house and exhibition.



This was the home of the Dickens family for many years, and there are some lovely touches around the house.


There are portraits of Charles and his family on every available wall, and the dining table has been laid with plates bearing images of the main members of the family, and some other key people in their lives. Our protagonist himself is of course at the head of the table!










Two lovely items are these in a drawer in the bedroom - on the left is a lock of hair from his sister in law, Mary Hogarth. She was a very big part of the Dickens family's life, and when she died, Charles and his wife were devastated. The item on the right is of particular interest to me as someone who guides Westminster Abbey often. I talk of the story of his burial, and how the poor of the East End came on foot to see his grave and lay flowers on it. This is one of those flowers. All the feels!



Within the exhibition on Oliver Twist, there are some fantastic images of Fagin, drawn at the time. Charles Dickens spent a lot of time at Newgate Prison, and knew the look of the cells very well.


This image of Fagin shows him in such a cell, tormented by the knowledge that he was to be hanged the next day. It's a wonderful image and the details are striking.









Among the documents are some never before seen handwritten sheets of paper from Dickens himself. They cover a variety of things, including letters to his doctor, and ending agreements with his publishers, but the one on the far left is a page from Nicholas Nickleby, written by him in quill.



One of my favourite details is this one in his reading copy of Oliver Twist. He created special books for his public readings, and he lent this one to an actress, Adeline Billington. She wrote in his annotations, which she was then able to use when performing it herself. This is the section leading up to Nancy's murder, and she is reminding herself to bring the drama!






There's also a look at how the story of Oliver Twist has stayed current, by including a piece of art by Cold War Steve, which was used for 2020's Christmas card for the food charity Fareshare.


It features PM Boris Johnson laughing at the young boy needing more food, with Home Secretary Priti Patel and Minister of State at the Department of Health and Social Care Nadine Dorries looking on.







The museum is currently (Jun 2021) open Weds-Sun, 10am - 5pm.


There is also a small self guided walking tour in the area, which you can get here;

- tour going TO the museum - click here

- tour going FROM the museum - click here


I've also compiled a map with all the locations in London relating to Oliver Twist, which you can see below.



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